To Be Your Student

Graduating from a traditional, four-year college, I didn’t have the privilege or experience of learning from the skilled professionals at Arizona Automotive Institute, Platt College, and South Texas Vocational Technical Institute. While I was able to learn many of the same important life lessons you instill upon our students – professionalism, sacrifice, service, leadership, respect and discipline. I cannot help but wonder how great it would have been to be one of your students.

  • To work side-by-side with a master welder bending molten metal
  • To learn medical ethics and patient care from nurses who have experienced the joy of life and sadness of death throughout their career as part of their calling, credo & DNA
  • To sweat under the hood of a tractor trailer or automobile with someone who could tear an engine apart and rebuild it in their sleep
  • To trace the veins of a patient with a Medical Assisting Instructor on route to a perfect stick
  • To replicate a sterile operating environment ensuring the field and formation exceeded the expectation of a seasoned Surgical Technologist
  • To roll egg whites delicately, flip a crepe perfectly, or flambé a dessert elegantly as my chef instructor stood watching with admiration, pride and nervousness
  • To properly learn dosage calculations, effectively administer air management techniques and recite recent revisions to medical record coding
  • To be on the roof of a commercial building identifying faults in an air conditioning unit with an instructor who knew the problem before we took our first step up the ladder
  • To take impressions and fabricate crowns, as a Dental Assisting Instructor stood by as a mentor & cheerleader
  • To mimic the graceful motions of a Professional Massage Therapist as they outlined a flawless Swedish technique
  • To sit completely awestruck in a class where a general education or CAS instructor was able to effectively connect theory to reality, and reality to my career aspirations

While my list of missed educational opportunities is long, as the President & CEO of Ancora Education, I have had made up for it through my many interactions with each of you – our esteemed faculty.

As we close out National Teacher Appreciation Week, I know I am a better person for working with, and learning from, each of you. As a company, we stand in complete admiration of your contribution and commitment to student success. You are the reason our educational model works. You are the reason our students work. Their experience, in your presence, creates life-long opportunity, tangible change, and a better future.

Sincerely,

Michael J. Zawisky

President & CEO

5 Reasons to Celebrate Your Instructors during Teacher Appreciation Week

When you really add up all the time we spend in school, from kindergarten to high school graduation and even on to higher education for a lot of us, it’s evident how important a role teachers really play in our lives. Without teachers, we would have no doctors, nurses, or presidents. We would have no mechanics, engineers, or welders. We wouldn’t even know how to read this very article.

With all things considered, we should show our appreciation for our teachers every day, but since this week happens to be when, we as a nation, observe Teacher Appreciation Week, here are five reasons to celebrate your instructors:

  1. Their Inspiration –

Your instructors possess an immeasurable amount of knowledge and understanding of their field, and they have chosen to share their passion and knowledge with you, as their students.

  1. Their Dedication –

As instructors they have chosen to dedicate their lives to helping their students have a successful future. They give of themselves, day-in and day-out to help you along your educational journey.

  1. Their Support –

When you’re having a hard time understanding a concept or struggling with preparing for a test, your instructors are there to offer you their support. They want to see you succeed and will go out of their way to make sure you have the support you need.

  1. Their Willingness to Challenge You –

Your instructors are there when you’re struggling, but in the same way that they will support you, they are also willing to challenge you.  It is through these challenges that you learn to grow, both as a student and as a person.

  1. For Believing in You –

Even when you might not have believed in yourself, your instructors believed in you.  Because they believed that you could succeed, you believed that you would succeed.

Share your reasons to celebrate your instructors in the comments!

Written by: Jennifer Robinson, Social Media Coordinator – Ancora Education

The Importance of Reading Food Labels

Have you ever noticed the “cage-free” label on a carton of eggs and wondered about the meaning behind such a label? Students in the nursing nutrition class at Platt College OKC North were asked this question by nutrition expert, Jessica Cox at Natural Grocers and the answers may not have been exactly what you think.

While most people are taught to look at calories and fat on food labels, Jessica introduced them to some more important items to look for on the food label. “Most nutrition classes focus too much on numbers and not enough on quality,” said Ms. Cox. Jessica mentioned important information about clever marketing terms that really don’t mean much about the food, but make you believe it must be better.

The first one Jessica mentioned was, “All Natural”.  It’s a clever marketing term that has nothing to do with how the animal was raised. Natural on a food package means minimally processed, which is a loose definition in itself.

Why should you care how an animal was raised? Because you don’t just eat the animal product, you also eat what the animal ate. For example, consider the class of food additives known as growth promoters. There are four common growth promoters used to fatten animals up.   This gets them to market faster and allows more production of meat and milk. The four common growth promoters our students learned about are:

  • Antibiotics
  • Asthma Medication
  • Growth Hormones
  • Arsenic based growth promoters

Antibiotics are put into the animal feed and water in order to make the animal grow faster. 70% of all antibiotics sold in the USA go to agriculture.  This practice has created an abundance of antibiotic resistant bacteria. There is currently research going on around the country linking bacteria from meat in the grocery store to antibiotic resistant bacteria found in infections of patients in hospitals. Cox recommended getting clean sources of meat, raised without growth promoters like antibiotics, for better immunity and overall health.

If you are looking to improve your health by reading food labels, I recommend beginning with the ingredients part of the label and focusing less on the numbers. Here are some key bullet points to help you choose wisely according to the list of ingredients:

  • It should be short – the fewer ingredients the better
  • Sugar should be at the bottom of the list, if there at all
  • If you can’t pronounce it or if it looks like some weird chemical, it probably is, skip it.
  • Purchase USDA organic and Non-GMO verified whenever possible
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners

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Dr. April Morford has been an adjunct instructor at Platt OKC North for the past six years. She loves educating the students on “real nutrition”, so that they can enhance their lives, their family’s lives and their patient’s lives through healthy eating.

Natural Grocers can be found all across the country and are a great resource for nutritional information. They have learning kitchens in every store because they believe that knowledge is power. They staff nutritional health coaches for you to have free health sessions and classes to learn more. They take pride in purchasing the cleanest products possible, which makes finding healthy products much easier. Find a store near you at www.naturalgrocers.com.

Our students were talking about this class trip for weeks. Natural Grocers and Jessica Cox gave them a gift of a free Vitamin Bible and delicious Grass-Fed yogurt. It was truly a wonderful, eye-opening experience for everyone.

Written by: Dr. April Morford, Instructor – Platt College OKC North

The Most Important Thing to Take on an Interview

The day has arrived and you are preparing for your first interview. You have worked hard to learn a new skill. You have studied and passed your certification exam. You have a copy of your diploma, transcript and certificates demonstrating great attendance and grade point averages in your portfolio. You have multiple copies, ready to leave one behind for anyone that asks. You have prepared an award winning resume. Your interview attire is perfect- clean and ironed. You have studied the top 10 questions you could be asked on an interview and you have prepared answers for all of them. But, there is still something missing. Self-Confidence.

The one thing that will win an employer over is a candidate that possesses self-confidence. Self-confidence is a magnet for success. It means that you believe in your own skills, goals, and ability to succeed. In an article posted in the Time Management Ninja, the author lists 10 reasons that self-confidence leads to success.

 10 Reasons That Self-Confidence Leads to Success:

  1. The Drive to Start Things – Confident people start things. They are not shy about striking out on a new idea even when those around them are still pondering it.
  2. The Ability to Stand Up for Oneself – Confidence allows you to stand up for yourself in a fair and consistent manner. Otherwise, you may find yourself unheard or unfairly treated.
  3. The Ability to Say No – Confident people have the ability to say “No” where appropriate. They do not take on unnecessary or inappropriate work or obligations.
  4. The Ability to Say Yes – And at the same time, confident individuals say “Yes” to opportunity. They do not miss new options because they are shy. I have seen individuals pass up opportunities (even promotions) because they didn’t think they were “worthy”.
  5. Confidence Overcomes Fear – Lack of confidence can lead to paralysis from fear. Fear of failure. Fear of what others think. Fear of the unknown. To succeed, you need the confidence to face and overcome your fears.
  6. Believe In Themselves – Self-confidence means believing in yourself. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” He was right.
  7. Set the Bar High Enough – Confident individuals set the bar high and aim high. Lack of confidence leads to weak goals, setting the bar too low, and mediocre results.
  8. Stretch Your Limits – Confidence lets you know your limits and test them. By stretching your limits you increase them. You are stronger than you think.
  9. Confidence Asks Questions – Confidence allows you to ask questions, even when others are silent. Confidence even lets you “ask for the job”.
  10. Believe In Winning – Confident people believe in success. And more importantly, they believe in their ability to succeed.

As you prepare to land your new career opportunity, consider the most important thing you can take with you, self-confidence. When you believe in yourself, you stand out in the crowd and you will always have good success!

To ensure that you’re prepared make an appointment with your Career Services team.

Written by: Shaundra Hamilton, Ancora Education – Vice President of Career Services

Land the Right Medical Assistant Job for You

Before moving to Fort Worth, I was gainfully employed as a medical assistant in Austin, Texas. The family practice employed five providers in total, three physicians and two nurse practitioners. I look back on this time fondly, as I couldn’t have found a better fit to start my career. The work was intriguing and fulfilling. I learned about differing techniques, odd medical anomalies, the inner workings of insurance companies, countless lessons on people in general, and so much more. While my professional skills and personality made me the right candidate for the position in that office, I like to think my prep work helped get my foot in the door. These are the top five things helped me land the right Medical Assistant job for me.

  1. Be a detective. Before an interview, find out everything you can about the practice. Read reviews on Yelp. Look over the company website. I even Facebook and LinkedIn stalked people that worked there after the first interview. You can prepare a list of questions for your interviewer not only to gain vital information on the position, but also to show that you care about the role. Learn about the providers. The practitioner(s) you are supporting can drastically change your job description. At one practice, the Medical Assistants were assigned to different providers daily. One Nurse Practitioner wanted me to get in and out of the rooms with little more information than the patient’s vitals and medication lists. She would get very agitated if I spent more than 5 minutes with the patient. Another doctor wanted a full medical history with vitals taken and labs processed before she entered the room. The best decision is made when you know the job, what is expected of you, and the medical personnel you will support.
  2. Know your ideal position. Some openings for Medical Assistants are desk jobs. The position requires very little face to face interaction with patients. They need someone to solely process referrals or prescription refills. Another position may have the MA only rooming patients. Most places I came across had a mix of both, but know what you want to do or are okay with doing before wasting everyone’s time. I once attended an interview with a vague job description at an allergy clinic. When I found out the position entailed being cooped up in a lab mixing homeopathic allergy tonics and Fedexing them to patients, I was no longer interested.
  3. Identify your values and trust what your gut tells you. If you don’t believe in homeopathy, you shouldn’t work for an office whose main course of treatment is homeopathy. Watch how the leaders treat other employees. If the thought of an abrasive personality in a manager makes you ill, don’t take the job. You will quit or be miserable, which would ruin an otherwise fun, interesting, and gratifying career. After moving from Austin, I hastily accepted a position with a family practice in a well-to-do neighborhood. While it was called a family practice, it was one stop shopping for some of the patients. While I was occupied with little Johnnie’s strep throat, Mrs. Cooper scowled impatiently across the lobby to get her Botox injections. My next patient would be getting his HCG injection equipment.  I was supposed to teach him how to inject the horse hormones to stave off hunger on a 500 calorie per day diet. I was annoyed by the fact that doctors were incorporating beauty treatments at a family practice, but I was horrified that a doctor’s office would embrace a dangerous and inefficient weight loss scam like the HCG diet. The practice manager explained to me that the patients wanted these things, so we had to comply to keep their business. I could not sell gimmicky healthcare and found a new job quickly.
  4. Volunteer in a medical environment. Start NOW. Lack of job experience will make a resume sparse and sad, but a year of volunteering in a hospital or nursing home can beef up the CV and get your foot in the door for an interview. This will also give you the opportunity to network in the medical community. I was a birth doula for a fantastic organization that helped women with little or no support when having a baby. It was fun, rewarding, and later got me into an amazing practice.
  5. Smile. Of course you smile when meeting for interviews, but amp it up.  Smile when you make the calls. Smile at patients in waiting rooms. Smile at the receptionist; she will hopefully be a future coworker. Smiling lowers stress, releases neurotransmitters responsible for euphoria, and makes you look more attractive and sincere. Don’t force it. If you aren’t in a cheerful mood, reference something in your mind that makes you grin. Practice smiling. I’m not making this up. Google it!

To find your ideal Medical Assistant position, be as prepared as possible. Check out the office, people, and philosophies of the practice to verify this is a position you want. Volunteer to network, look better on paper, and feel like a decent human being. Then SMILE because you will find the best opportunity for you.

Written by: Megan McCatty, IT Administrative Assistant – Ancora Education

Study Techniques That Compliment Your Learning Style

shutterstock_217035208_renderedStudy, study, study. Do you find yourself studying excessively, but your grades aren’t reflecting all the effort you’re putting in? Then maybe you aren’t studying in ways that compliment your learning style. Contrary to popular opinion, textbooks and lectures might not be the only way to prepare yourself for an exam.

What is a learning style and how does it effect me?

Learning style has to do with the different ways that people bring in and absorb new information. Knowing your learning style can help you use your strengths when studying.

Ever wondered why you do well in some classes and not in others? This may depend on your learning style. Whether taking a regular class or studying for a major exam you can greatly increase your productivity by tailoring your study habits to compliment your particular learning style.

You might be a Visual Learner if…

If you never forget a face, but have trouble remembering people’s names then you might be a Visual Learner. If you’d rather watch the movie than read the book, you might be a visual learner. Visual learners process information best when it’s presented to them visually.

Study tips for Visual Learners:shutterstock_280433198_rendered

Take detailed notes

Whether you are sitting in class or reading a text book, make sure to take lots of notes. By taking copious amounts of detailed notes you give yourself the ability to review what was covered later at your own pace, and the act of note-taking itself contributes to your absorption of the material.

Watch a video on the topic

Like I said before, if you’d rather watch the movie, then maybe you should. Now this doesn’t mean go watch the new Star Wars movie instead of studying. It means finding videos online that cover what you are studying. Whether you Google a short clip to answer a particular question or you use an online learning resource like Khan Academy, you will find videos to be strong study aids. Note: Make sure your videos come from reputable sources.

Use Flashcards

Flash cards will help you learn the subject using repetition to ensure you retain the knowledge. There are many apps available if you don’t feel like making your own flash cards. Apps such as Chegg Flashcards and Studyblue allow you to keep score and track your stats so that you know what areas you need to focus on.

 You might be an Auditory Learner if…

If you find you enjoy humming aloud or talking to yourself, you might be an Auditory Learner. If you remember words to songs and notice sound effects in movies, then you might be an Auditory learner. This just means that you study best by listening. Auditory Learners tend to perform the best in classes that emphasize lectures and class discussions.

Study tips for Auditory Learners:

Record your lecturesshutterstock_272450690_rendered

Recording your lectures allows you to listen to them again when trying to study. There are many apps available.

Verbalize what you’ve learned.

In the same way that visual learners learn from writing notes, auditory learners can solidify their learning by verbalizing what they’ve learned. Put it into your own words, this helps you to truly grasp the subject and remember it longer.

Read aloud

Read aloud whenever possible. After reading a chapter, summarize it out loud.

Use Mnemonic Devices

A mnemonic device is a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations that assists in remembering something. Using a mnemonic device can make remembering dull or difficult to learn material such as numbers, formulas, dates, terminology, or concepts easier and maybe even a little fun.

Work in Groups

When working in a group you can discuss the subject and better absorb the material. You can also quiz each other.

You might be a Tactile/Kinesthetic Learner if…

If you hate using an owner’s manual when you buy a new gadget or reading the instructions to put together IKEA furniture, then you might be a kinesthetic learner. If you tap your feet to music and can’t sit still in lectures, you might be a kinesthetic learner. This means you comprehend information best through hands-on learning. Kinesthetic learners tend to do better in labs than in lectures.

Study Tips for Kinesthetic Learners:girl typing on laptop with socks

Apply what you’ve learned

If you’re studying from a textbook, you can get frustrated pretty quickly. To combat this frustration and better understand the material you covered, look for practical applications for what you’ve just learned.

Take short study breaks

Rather than forcing yourself to sit and study for long periods, break up your study sessions into 30 minute increments with 5 minute breaks in between to stand up and move around. This can be beneficial to all students, but especially for kinesthetic learners.

Keep your hands busy while studying

Believe it or not, kinesthetic learners study and comprehend information better when their hands are involved. It can be as simple as holding an object, like a stress ball, while studying or typing out your notes.

What to keep in mind

 No matter what your predominant learning style may be, it’s important that you keep in mind that it’s just your predominant, not your only learning style. Most of us are a mix of all three.  Don’t be afraid to try methods from other learning styles as well. The goal is to find what methods work best for you.

 Find Out Your Learning Style

You can find out what your preferred learning style is by taking the assessment found here.

Written by: Jennifer Robinson, Social Media Coordinator – Ancora Education

Communication Can Change Everything

communicationAs a Surgical Technology instructor and clinical coordinator, I came to this field knowing that I wanted to help people. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives in a medical aspect. I enjoy the gratification of making someone feel better. I moved through the ranks as Surgical Tech, evening shift, day shift, specialty tech, and finally heart scrub. Eventually, I was asked to come teach at the Platt College Oklahoma City Central Campus. In all my time in this field, whether it be in the hospital or in the classroom, I have found that there is one thing critically important to the profession that can’t be found in any textbook, and that is communication.

As humans we are able to communicate in many different ways. One such way is by asking questions. When I’m teaching a class, I welcome the students to question what I am telling them. If I don’t say a medical term correctly, I want them to tell me. I feel that I am encouraging a culture of critical thinking.  If new information is presented, they should pull from all of their knowledge and experience to evaluate if it is right or wrong. There are so many ways to do our job as surgical technologists, and I want the student to be able to have an open mind and ask why and how the information can benefit them and make them a better scrub. These are the kind of people we need, not only in this profession, but in the world.

When I go to sites like Facebook or other forums for Scrub Techs, they are constantly telling each other what they are doing wrong. They quickly pull rank by saying how long they have been doing it and dismiss any new ideas. I think if we could find a way to talk to each other by asking questions, such as, why they did something a certain way, or why they feel that their way is a good practice, we could accomplish so much more. We should communicate with each other in a positive manner and with an open mind. We should look past judgment and take with us the good.

Listening is also an important part of communication.  Active listening can build better relationships. Being able to listen effectively makes for a productive employee, and a productive employee is a desirable employee.

Communication can be uncomfortable when you disagree with someone and have to confront them. There are many ways to do this without anger or conflict.  The first thing to do is edit your thoughts before speaking. Just coming out and telling someone that they are wrong will most likely make them mad.  Instead, find a way to clearly and concisely let them know that you do not understand the way they did something; it will make the person more open to speak about their actions. Second, you should always communicate with a good attitude. When engaging in a conversation with someone, your body language and attitude need to match.

My final word of advice would be to speak up and speak often. Communication skills are paramount to a team-oriented career like surgical technology. As stated by M Leonard, S Graham, and D Bonacum “Effective communication and teamwork is essential for the delivery of high quality, safe patient care.”

We liveperson at computer in a world where social media and technology allow us to hide behind a screen and never look people in the eye. That’s why I feel such a sense of responsibility to teach the importance of communication.  Many errors can be avoided by speaking up for what is right. Minor misunderstandings in relationships can be avoided with better communication. Have the courage to speak up. Have the passion to learn and truly understand what you do.  Have the drive to be the best you can be and enjoy what you do every day.

Written by: Nola Jones, CST & Surgical Technology Instructor – Platt College OKC Central